Hoʻokuahua Waiwai, Economic Self-Sufficiency: To have choices and a sustainable future, Native Hawaiians will progress towards greater economic self-sufficiency. Learn more about the work we do at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to create systemic change in Hoʻokuahua Waiwai, Economic Self-Sufficiency.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of affordability is for a household to pay no more than 30% of income on housing costs. Households that spend more are considered “cost-burdened“ because they have less to spend on other necessities (HUD, 2012).

Percent of Native Hawaiians Paying 30% or More of Household Income on Rent (2006-2012)

As of 2012, 56% of Native Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian renters reported spending at least 30% of household income on housing costs, thus exceeding the HUD definition of affordable housing.


To support Native Hawaiians building stability in their housing self-sufficiency, OHA solicits proposals every biennium to provide services that increase the percent of Native Hawaiian who improve their capacity to own or rent a home. In the years 2014-2015, OHA is working with five community organizations to specifically provide services to increase stability in housing for Native Hawaiians so they may be able to progress toward long-term economic self-sufficiency.


In 2011, OHA started research with the County Directorʻs to "Understand the Housing Needs of Native Hawaiian and Non-Hawaiian Section 8 Households". Data indicate longer wait list duration for Native Hawaiians compared to Non-Hawaiians on the same list.

EPIC Ohana, Inc., Family Promise of Hawaii, Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii, Hawaiian Community Assets, Molokai Habitat for Humanity currently provide more than 140 Native Hawaiian individuals and families with rental assistance services like:

(1) Outreach, screening, intake and assessment;
(2) Compliance with eligibility requirements;
(3) Case management including the development of an Individual Service Plan and financial
(4) Provide life and soft skills training (e.g. problem-solving and other cognitive skills, personal
qualities and work ethic, managing money, teamwork skills, time management, interpersonal and
communication skills, among others), and comprehensive first-time home buyer classes as
(5) Provide financial literacy training;
(6) Offer matched savings for use as a down payment towards home ownership or other housingrelated
expenses, if appropriate; or
(7) Offer matched savings for use as rental assistance towards payment of security deposit, if
(8) Follow-up services.

Hawai'i Homeless Counts by Island, 2010-2013


Asset limitations for public benefit programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and food stamps, encourage low-income families to get rid of assets instead of accumulating them, which makes it difficult for those families to escape poverty and become self-sufficient. In the 2012 OHA Legislative Package we fought to increase the asset limit qualification for certain public assistance programs from $5,000 to $15,000 to allow families to accumulate assets and improve their financial conditions. Act 18 (HB 2685, 2012) was signed into law, eliminating the asset limit for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The following chart shows total TANF benefits by year in the State.


Household Income: The sum of money income received in the calendar year by all household members 15 years old and over, including household members not related to the householder, people living alone, and other nonfamily household members. Included in the total are amounts reported separately for wage or salary income; net self-employment income; interest, dividends, or net rental or royalty income or income from estates and trusts; Social Security or Railroad Retirement income; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); public assistance or welfare payments; retirement, survivor, or disability pensions; and all other income (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2012).
Median gross rent: The amount which divides the gross rent distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median gross rent and one-half above the median. Gross rent is the contract rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, and water and sewer) and fuels (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.) if these are paid by the renter (or paid for the renter by someone else). Gross rent is intended to eliminate differentials that result from varying practices with respect to the inclusion of utilities and fuels as part of the rental payment. The estimated costs of water and sewer, and fuels are reported on a 12-month basis but are converted to monthly figures for the tabulations. Renter units occupied without payment of cash rent are shown separately as “No cash rent” in the tabulations (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006).
Native Hawaiian: Any descendant of the aboriginal peoples inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands which exercised sovereignty and subsisted in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, and which peoples thereafter have continued to reside in Hawaiʻi.
 Code used for selecting statistics was #062: Native Hawaiian (alone or in any combination (ACS Code #602) 500-503) & (100-299) or (300, A01-Z99) or (400-999).


U.S. Bureau of the Census. (2006). American Community Survey (ACS): 2004 Subject Definitions. Retrieved April 24, 2013 from http://www.census.gov/acs/www/ Downloadsdatadocumentation/SubjectDefinitions/2004ACSSubjectDefinitions.pdf U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). American Community Survey (ACS). 1-year Estimates: 2006-2012._Site: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_1YR_S0201&prodType=table_

U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). American Community Survey (ACS). 1-year Estimates: 2006-2012Site:_http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_11_1YR_S0201&prodType=table_

U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (2012). Affordable Housing. Retrieved October 22, 2012 from http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing_

OHA Research Disclaimer. The data presented have been vetted for accuracy; however, there is no warranty that it is error-free. The data itself does not represent or confer any legal rights of any kind. Please use suggested citation and report discrepancies to the OHA Research Division.


OHA ESS Indicator Sheets, Renters 2013

OHA ESS Indicator Sheets, Renters 2012

For more interesting data relating to Hoʻokuahua Waiwai, Economic Self-Sufficiency, please see the OHA Native Hawaiian Data Book.